As development continues in The Vintage and on commercial properties across Hwy. 249, multiple park and pathway projects are in the works to meet the demand of a growing region along the roadway.
Jim Robertson, chairman of the Cypress Creek Greenway Project, said a master trails plan has begun for a 20-square-mile area that stretches from Grant Road east to The Vintage. Robertson said he has been working with local utility districts on the plan, which could improve connectivity along Cypress Creek between residential properties and amenities in the region.
"This is a plan to develop a master plan," Robertson said. "This is not an implementation plan. That would be the next step. With this master plan, you'll get an idea [of] the connectivity that's possible, what's there now and some idea of the cost."
Houston-based consulting firm EHRA, was hired to begin work on the project in May, said Katie Golzarri, department manager of landscape architecture for the firm.
Golzarri said the region contains more than 85,000 linear feet of pathway already. During the summer, the firm walked the existing pathways to see what conditions they were in while also studying potential pathway corridors to determine possible routes and construction needs.
"The neat thing about this area is that there's already some really good trail projects that have already been constructed," Golzarri said. "There's just a lack of length. You can't go too far of a distance without running into a boundary or the trail ends."
She said the plan will study how to fill the gaps between the existing pathways while connecting the major waterways in the region: Cypress Creek, Pillot Gully and Faulkey Gully. Golzarri said the plan will also study the connectivity of trails to neighborhoods as well as schools, Lone Star College–University Park, The Vintage and other commercial developments.
The plan cost $105,000, Robertson said, and was funded by multiple sources that are part of the project's coordinating board. Coordinating board members include the Lake Forest and Prestonwood utility districts, Harris County MUDs 286 and 468 and the Malcomson Road Utility District as well as the Houston Parks Board, Lone Star College, Noble Energy and Sueba USA.
Golzarri said a public meeting will be held Jan. 28 at LSC-University Park to present the results of the plan to the public. After the meeting, Golzarri said it will be up to the project partners as well as private donors and other organizations to budget for many of the recommendations.
Robertson said the master plan could be integral in connecting three of the anchor parks and preserves in the region: Cypress Park, the 100 Acre Wood Preserve and the Kickerillo-Mischer Preserve. Cypress Park was completed in 2014, he said, but work continues on the other two projects.
County park, pathway projects
Dennis Johnston, park administrator for Harris County Precinct 4, said engineering is completed for a planned passive park within the 85-acre Kickerillo-Mischer Preserve in The Vintage.
However, the project could require more than $6 million to fund, which Johnston said would either require substantial donations or a parks bond. Johnson said the last parks bond referendum was passed in Harris County in 2007, and the next one may not be on the ballot until 2017 or later.
"When you take a raw park like that and all the infrastructure, it's going to take about $6 million to break ground," he said.
Funding has already been allocated for two pathway projects west of Hwy. 249 that could help EHRA's master trails plan, Johnston said. The first project would be a trail system that parallels Cypress Creek throughout the 100 Acre Wood Preserve, connecting the western edge of the park to the YMCA to the east.
About $900,000 has been allocated from the Harris County capital project, he said. The project could go to bid in the first quarter of 2015, while construction could begin next summer.
Meanwhile, the Anderson Trail is in the design phase, Johnston said. The trail—which will travel from Matzke Park north along Jones Road to trails at Cypresswood Drive—will cost about $325,000. Harris County will fund about $100,000 of the costs of the pathway.
Johnston said he believes the master plan will provide value to the community.
"If we can bring this underneath [Hwy.] 249 eventually and connect to shopping and entertainment, it's going to be huge," he said. "You have a lot of trail systems now where you can do a circle around the park, but this gives you a destination."